I miss the manger

The neighborhood is so dark in January. When I walk my dog at night, I miss the sparkle of Christmas lights on houses. I miss the bright warmth of Christmas trees shining through windows.

Christmas lights
Christmas lights
Most of all, I miss the soft glow of the manger scene, the gleam on the faces of the shepherds and wise men. But is it more than light in a dark room that I miss? Could it be the innocence and purity of that scene?
 © Jack H Thompson
Manger light © Jack H Thompson

After all, when the wise men left, Joseph was warned in a dream to take the child to Egypt. As they slipped away in the night, Herod sent his soldiers to kill all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two.

The dark world, full of pain and hurt, seemed to quickly absorb the light.

As I face the hurt or pain in my life, and in those I love, I could easily slip under the weight of darkness.

My child and grandchildren are going through a painful experience. My mother sinks further every day into her own dark world of dementia, yet still painfully aware of what she is losing. My sister has suffered months with undiagnosed misery. My brother went for what we’d hoped was an easily treatable cancer, only to find it much more daunting, and he faces many weeks of radiation and chemo.

I am certain you have your own list, pockets of pain or hopelessness. Prayers too long uttered. Joy so slow in coming.

Wailing seal © Jack H Thompson
Wailing seal © Jack H Thompson

Oh yes, the darkness is very present. Always threatening to overcome the light.

But we can’t stay at the manger. That was just the beginning. It was only a glimpse of the light.

In the strangest twist, it took the greatest darkness of all, that manger-child growing into a man and allowing himself to be nailed to a wooden crossbar and hoisted up, for the cruelest death the Romans could produce, all the fury of hell thrown at one body. The blackness of death. And three days. Three long days and nights of darkness. Loss. Hopelessness.

Then morning came — the day we’ll celebrate months from now, with odd objects like bunnies and colored chicks and baskets of candy – and with the Dawn of Morning Light came the light that overcame the darkness.

Morning light in Galapagos
Morning light © Jack H Thompson

What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. John 1:4-5 The Message

We won’t find what we need longing for a warmer, more secure time. Nor in turning away, ignoring the pain, or anesthetizing the pain with food or busyness — whatever the drug of choice. Not waiting for a better future, the someday when everything will be right.

The light we long for is either present, here, now, or it isn’t powerful enough for all that we face.

In another strange twist, we don’t run after the light. The light finds us. We look around, and see.

leaving darkness © Jack H Thompson
leaving darkness © Jack H Thompson

God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace. Luke 1: 78-79

Each time His light flashes into our lives, illuminating the way like a crack of lightning, our certainty grows. Over the years, every experience builds our story, within His story.

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. II Corinthians 3: 16-18

So if the darkness is pressing in, if your road is through the gloom, even through the valley of the shadow of death, don’t lose heart.

I’ve heard his voice. I’ve seen the light enough times to know it is there, even when I can’t see it.

At times, we have to sit in the shadows, wait for the story to play out. But in the fullness of time, he will appear. Watch for the light.

We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. II Peter 1:19 The Message

What kind of darkness has pursued you?
How have you been surprised by the light?

3 thoughts on “I miss the manger

  1. Dear Jane, I have a prayer request and wonder if you could forward it to our friends in bible class, or any other prayer group.

    My brother, Frank Dobbs, had a hip replacement about 2 years ago and the equipment used for it was made by the Stryker Co. This device has been “recalled”- and it’s causing very dangerous problems for many people. My brother has to have very serious surgery on this Wednesday 1/22 in Chicago where he has found a doctor and hospital that have done this procedure multiple times, and he feels it’s the “right” place to go. The surgery is quite difficult and so is the rehab and recovery.

    I would appreciate it so much if folks could pray for him. I called the church today but could only leave a voice mail.

    MANY THANKS!     blessings, Cathy Dobbs

    ________________________________

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  2. Like you say, Jane, I’ve seen the light enough times to know Jesus is with me. The best time of my prayer time is at the end when I go to my list of answered prayers on my iPad, close my eyes, and scroll up and down, and then jab my finger to the screen. I look to see what God did and praise him for that item once again.

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